Gum Paste Flowers #1: How to Make Carnations on Wires

In order to make gum paste carnations on wires, you need to make the bases in advance. I like to make mine at least a day ahead and let them dry overnight.

You’ll need 22 gauge (food safe) floral wire, needle nose pliers, gum glue (dissolve a pinch of gum paste in a small amount of water), a small food safe brush, and gum paste.

Using the pliers, make a small hook at one end of the wire. Pinch off a small amount of gum paste and roll into a little bulb. Dip the hooked end of the wire into the gum glue, and then press it into the tiny blob of gum paste. The gum paste should cover the hook, but make sure the wire doesn’t go all the way through the top of the gum paste. Allow to dry completely before adding the carnation petals.

When ready to make the carnations, roll out gum paste as thinly as possible. Cut out multiple petals using a round cutter with a scalloped edge. Place all the petals except for the one you’re currently working with underneath plastic to keep them from drying out.

Place the petal you’re working with on shaping foam, and using a ball tool or dog bone tool, thin and widen the center and edges. Move the shape off the foam and use a frill stick (or toothpick) to ruffle up the edges.

Lightly brush the carnation base with gum glue. Center the end of the wire in the middle of the ruffled petal, and thread it through so the petal rests underneath the carnation base. Fold it in half and pinch around the base to secure.

Lightly brush the center with gum glue, and then fold one side over to the middle. Flip the carnation over, brush a small amount of gum glue onto this side of the center, and fold the other side of the petal to the middle. Pinch lightly around the bottom of the base to secure. Allow to dry before adding more petals.

Repeat the thinning and ruffling on subsequent petals, and add them the same way to build the carnation. Lightly pinch around the base to let the edge of each petal gather and fold as you attach it. You can use a thin modeling tool to tweak the petal positions.

Once the carnations are filled out and the petals are dry, add a calyxes to finish them off. Roll green gum paste very thinly, cut out the calyx shapes using a calyx or star cutter, and store extras under plastic until you’re ready to work with them.

Place the calyx on shaping foam, and using a ball tool or dog bone tool widen and thin the center of the calyx petals. Keep the tips pointy. Then cup the center using a ball tool.

Center the end of the wire in the middle of the calyx, and push the calyx up to the carnation base, pinching around the bottom to secure. Use gum glue sparingly to attach the petals of the calyx to the underside of the flower. You can have carnations of various sizes, depending on how many petals you add. I like to stick the wires in a block of styrofoam to let them dry.

I also made videos demonstrating this technique, they’re posted to YouTube:

How to make the bases:

Adding the carnation petals:

Making the calyx: